The top US diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region has conceded that the Obama administration’s decision last year to focus more on Asia had unnerved traditional allies around the world and overemphasised military ties, particularly with Australia.
The Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, Kurt Campbell, said the Asian “pivot” had the “unintended consequence” of causing America’s European allies to think that Washington’s refocusing towards Asia implied a move away from traditional allies.
But Dr. Campbell rejected the idea that America was a declining power on a futile mission to contain China. Speaking in a conference call to an audience in Australia, he said the US had been and would remain a “strong and dynamic” power in the region for many years, and its role in fostering peace, stability and rising prosperity was “recognised by all the players in the region”.
Responding to Dr. Campbell's comments during his visit to Sydney, Singapore Institute of International Affairs Chairman Simon Tay said: “The role of the US is changing in a real way and Asians are thinking of an Asia less built around America. Australian questioning of where you fit in is a good thing."